William Penn and the Quaker Legacy
For many Americans, William Penn is just known as the Quaker leader who founded Pennsylvania and for his ‘Holy Experiment’. Penn’s achievements were far greater than just the founding of a colony. He had devotion and spirit and love for the Quaker sect and in turn spent his whole life trying to get others to see the good in Quakerism and create toleration for the religion. In the biography of William Penn and the Quaker Legacy, John Moretta asserts that William Penn is one of the most significant figures of American History and many of America’s principles were created in his time. On October 14, 1644 William Penn was born in London, England. His parents were Sir William Penn, an Admiral, and Margaret Penn, the daughter of Anglo-Irish parents. Sir William Penn was an esteemed member of the Royal Navy and just as his career kicked off, his son was born. Sir William Penn found himself having to decide between his family and England. As most Englishmen did, Sir William Penn chose England. His father believed that his main priority was to provide for the whole family, not help raise his son. This resulted in him not being present for the first two years of William’s life, a time in which he developed smallpox, permanently losing most of his hair which led him to wearing a wig for the rest of his life. The absence of Sir William in William Penn’s life would prove to be a common trait in both of them where in the future, Penn does the same with his own family. When Cromwell came into power Sir William Penn’s rank continued to rise and rise and he was recognized as a national hero with is success at sea. At one time Cromwell imprisoned Sir William Penn because he believed that he had disobeyed orders. Sir William Penn was embarrassed at his questioning of judgment and decided to move the family to Ireland. While his father was off at sea, William Penn attended Chigwell School. William was brought up with a fine education, learning Latin and Greek and receiving both “a classical as well as a practical education” (Pg. 7). Since Penn never bonded with his father he never gained his father’s characteristics of lust, manliness, and power for success. Instead, he was more reserved and quiet. It is believed that since William Penn was rejected from his father, Quakerism seemed so appealing to him. Penn, even at an early age, had an interest in religion. By the time he was 13 he was convinced that he was “destined to lead a holy life” (Pg. 14). He was introduced to Quakerism when Thomas Loe, a Quaker preacher, came to Ireland to spread the Quaker message. William became very interested in the religion, and when he grew up he left the Anglican Church to become a Quaker, and became the most influential person for that religion in history. Thomas Loe had impacted William Penn’s in a way that would change his life The Quaker religion differed from other religions. The religion rejected external forms of worship and believed that the way to create a relationship with God was created within you. They believed that getting close to God involved personal and emotional experiences that produced the ultimate bond between God and the Quaker. Quakerism rejected sacraments, liturgies, ministers, and prayers because they thought it interfered with their communication with God. They held silent services, until someone was spoken to by a divine spirit. One of the main characteristics of the Quaker religion was equality. No one person was more important than the other. Even in church they did not have ministers because they did not believe in church hierarchy. They all talked to each other and others in the same tone, regardless of their social status, and both men and women were thought of as equals. To the Quakers, man was perceived as good and were born to do good rather than evil, and therefore the Quaker’s were very forgiving people. Their main intent was to spread the Quaker faith. The only problem was that...
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